Upper Yosemite Falls to Yosemite Point

Being away from family is hard around the holidays, but there are ways to enjoy the day even when thousands of miles from your closest loved ones. Hiking, is the activity that I chose to take up my Thanksgiving this year – who would’ve thought?! 😉

Tunnel view at dawn

Since I am going back east for Christmas, it wasn’t feasible for me to get home for Thanksgiving too, so I hung around here and planned out a big hike: Yosemite Point via the Upper Yosemite Falls trail. This trail is about 4.2 miles up (and I mean up) with an overall gain of over 4,000 feet. It did not disappoint and to date, is one of the toughest but most rewarding hikes I’ve done.

I can’t stress this tip enough: start early. The climb is no joke, there are endless rocky switchbacks that are super steep. I got to the trailhead around 7:45am and started my trek.

Immediately, the uphill climb started. Before long you reach Columbia Rock (about a mile in) and are rewarded with some views of the valley.

The early morning was casting some weird shadows over the valley but it was still beautiful. I didn’t stop long, as I knew I had a long uphill climb ahead of me and I only know one speed when hiking! I kept climbing upwards and eventually was treated with a short downhill portion. It was a pleasant treat but I knew the worst was yet to come. Soon I rounded a corner and was treated to a view of the falls!

The views were already unbeatable and I couldn’t wait to get up to the top! This is where the rocky, exposed switchbacks started and they were tough. It was only in the 9:00 hour and it was already hot! I stopped for a brief period a few times but continued trekking up.

I got excited when I started to see more greenery, because I knew I was almost there! Next thing I knew everything was leveling out and the path was leading me to the edge.

Made it! It was a loooong way down. I went down to the waterfall’s edge where you follow some steep steps with handrails before turning back and jumping back on the trail up towards Yosemite  Point. I was treated to this view of the water leading down in to the falls which was beautiful.

It’s about .8 of a mile to get up to Yosemite Point, but if you have the energy/time/daylight to do it, it’s a must. My legs were shaking by the time I got up there but you guys…

You’re rewarded with the most incredible view of the park and of Half Dome with the Sierras all across the skyline. It was unreal. I stayed up there for a snack and to take lots of pictures and then turned around and returned the way that I came. Those switchbacks were plain hard going up, but coming back down was scary! It’s two days later right now and my muscles are SO sore, but it was worth it.

With the sun up a little higher in the sky on the way down, it was hot! I couldn’t believe how many people were on their way up at the 11 o’clock hour. Do yourself a favor and don’t put yourself through that, start early! I had 3L of water with me and went through 2L easy, and cracked open my 1L bottle on my way down.

On the way down, you’re treated with even better views of the falls at this time because of where the sun was hitting them…


I went quick on the way back down, to the dismay of my knees and quads, but I really only know one speed and I get anxious to finish the hike on the way back down, haha! Once I hit Columbia Rock, the crowds started up and I had to pass a lot of people. Luckily most were kind and would hear me coming and pull off to the side – trail courtesy at its finest. I was surprised to see how crowded it was, given that it was Thanksgiving Day, but it also made me happy to see so many people enjoying the beautiful park together on a day that’s all about being thankful.

Overall, it was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done. From my car back to my car I covered 9.38 miles in a little over 4 hours with a 4,000+ foot climb.




Oh, Hey!

And just like that, it’s been over a month since I last posted. Looks like we have a lot of catching up to do…

I’m now more than halfway finished with my contract. Whoa. Time has certainly flown by and it’s making me anxious and excited for where I’m heading next. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I know it’ll be an awesome adventure. So what have I been up since we last chatted? Hiking, duh. And working. And meeting friends. And falling deeper in love with the PNW.

I’ve seen a lot of waterfalls… like, a lot.

I ran the Trail of Ten Falls in Silver Falls State Park, which featured, obviously, ten waterfalls.

South Falls – I started here at the South parking lot
North Falls – One of my favorites of the 10!
Upper North Falls – photo cred to the couple I kept creeping up behind

I went up to the Columbia River Gorge area and saw Multnomah Falls, the tallest in Oregon.

And checked out Horsetail Falls…

And even hiked through waist deep water to get to Oneonta Falls! (Disclaimer: the hike to get to Oneonta was pretty epic, through a canyon and along (in) the creek – BUT, it was so, freaking, crowded. Like, families bringing small children and dogs over these huge log-jams which meant more waiting time for others (I went around the line and climbed up a different way). It definitely took away from the experience a bit)

While in the Gorge, we checked out Punchbowl Falls as well…

More recently I checked out Silver and Golden Falls, outside of Coos Bay…

Silver Falls
Golden Falls

And last weekend, I went and explored Salt Creek Falls, extending my hike to see Diamond Creek Falls!

Who knew Oregon had so many dang waterfalls?! 238, to be exact… I just Googled it. 

I got to experience Crater Lake National Park in all of it’s incredible, epic beauty.

A butterfly actually landed on my finger…
Mount Scott

And my personal favorite picture, unedited…

I went to a Portland Timbers game! And they won!

I went to the coast and hiked, then watched the sunset at Cannon Beach…

Hug Point
Cape Lookout – it was like a rainforest, and there was no look out due to fog 😦
Cape Falcon

And I climbed a little mountain…

Those layers though…


I only have FOUR weekends left in Oregon, unless I decide to extend my contract, which I would only do if I can’t find anything that I want. But that just means I have to make the most of these next four weekends!

Unfortunately, the forest fires have been pretty bad out here and are ruining a lot of my plans – including a 12-mile summit hike we were planning on doing in 3 weeks… which as of right now, the trail is closed due to fires. Ugh. But we have a plan B, which is to head up to Mount Rainier, so either way it will be a great weekend!

I’ll try to be better about posting – at least once a week so I can really tell y’all about my weekends, rather than just photo dumping things on ya!



Mt. Hood and McKenzie River Trail

This past weekend I got the chance to explore see some waterfalls and some mountains – the perfect weekend if you ask me!


Sunday morning started bright and early as I made my way to Albany to meet up with Kristen. From her house, we grabbed her co-worker and then made our way to Mount Hood National Park where we planned to attack the Tom, Dick and Harry Trail by Mirror Lake!

The parking lot was full by the time we got there a little after 9am, so we had to park about a mile up the road before walking to the trail head. Get there early on the weekends to avoid this, but it wasn’t terrible and there was a path to follow along the road.

After about a mile of a lot of dirt switchbacks, we reached Mirror Lake! Our goal was to get to the top of Tom, Dick and Harry Mountain, so we didn’t stay too long at the lake and opted to do the loop on the way back. Up, up, up we went until…


Snow caps of Mt. St Helens, Mt Ranier and Mt Adams

The trail was easy to navigate since it’s pretty heavily traveled. The last bit to get to the summit was a lot of rocks, but nothing too strenuous. The views were all 100% worth it. We hung out at the time for awhile and all agreed that we could have stayed there forever. But eventually we started to make our way back down.

We went around Mirror Lake the opposite way to see the classic Mirror Lake view with Mt. Hood in the background.

Then we made our way back to the car for a total of 7.2 miles (per my GPS watch). After the hike we headed up to the Timberline Lodge which sits right on Mt. Hood and has ski lifts to take skiiers/snowboarders up towards the top. There were actually people skiing – in July! The lodge was really cool to walk through and check out, so I would definitely recommend a pit stop there if you’re in the area. We ended our day with some lunch at Mt. Hood Brewing Company, then made the trek home!


I stayed a bit more local and explored the Willamette National Forest area – Shahalie Falls, Koosah Falls, and the Blue Pool were on my list to see!

First up: Shahalie Falls!

The trailhead to the Waterfall Trail actually starts at Sahalie Falls. I got there around 8:45 and there were only 1-2 other cars in the lot.

After stopping to check out Sahalie Falls at the trailhead, I started down the path to Koosah Falls. It was down stream, so downhill and flat which made it perfect to get a little jog in. I ended up speed walking/jogging until I hit Koosah, stopping every now and then to look at my surroundings.

I kept going down to the Carmen Reservoir and debating continuing on to the Blue Pool which I knew was 3 miles down, but I didn’t have service and didn’t have a map.. So I decided to go back up to the car. Once I ran back, I realized that because I didn’t have service, I couldn’t look up how to drive to the Blue Pool either…

Then I remembered that I took a screenshot of the directions the night before when I was researching – WIN! I never would have found it otherwise; there were zero signs leading me to the trailhead, but once I found it I knew I had arrived by the line of cars along the side. To get there, you want to turn at to the Trailbridge Campground sign, take a right once you go over the bridge, continue up the gravel road about a third of a mile and you will see the trail sign on the left.

According to my watch, it took me about 2 miles to get to the pool. The trail is pretty rocky in some parts but follows the river and is fairly flat overall considering some of the other trails I’ve been doing. But before I knew it, I was there…

There is zero filter on this. Zero. The water is THAT blue. It was incredible.

I didn’t make the trip down to the water, but watched a lot of others climb down. One crazy lady even jumped in – I’ve heard the water temps aren’t higher than 40 degrees, no thank you. I could have sat there and stared at the water forever, it was just unreal.

I met a very nice older couple who actually are originally from PA, right outside of Maryland! It’s such a small world and is so fun to meet all of these people. We chatted for a few minutes and they offered to snap some pictures for me, which I was thankful for because my selfie game is only so strong…

After saying bye to my new friends, I hit the trail and headed back to the car. It was about 4 miles total once I got back to my car.

And that wrapped up another solid weekend exploring the PNW. It’s getting harder and harder to justify going back east…

Sometimes I Work

While I’m living for the weekends when I have the chance to get out and explore this amazing state, I do, actually, work.

I’m through my second week and I’m getting adjusted pretty well. I was actually ready to get started with work after the week off to drive across the country – mostly because I do better when I have a schedule. The first few days were a lot of orientation, computer-based training things, learning protocols, and just getting a feel for how things are done; but now I’m up and running!

I’m in a small, community based hospital. There are a lot of differences between this place and the system that I was working for for the past 1.5 years. Not only the size of the hospitals, but the size of the caseload, the productivity requirements, the speed and the documentation.

To put things into perspective:

  • Back in Philly I was floating between 4 different hospitals with bed numbers from 220-350 beds per hospital. Here, there are 113 beds.
  • In Philly, I could be given a list of anywhere from 12-25 patients depending on the day/hospital/coverage. Here, I’m lucky if I get assigned more than 6-7 patients. We do pick up new consults as they come in and see post-op orthopedic patients day zero, so that adds to the list. But I’m still not seeing more than 7-8 patients a day.
  • The ICU here I would compare more to a step-down, or even a step-down from a step-down unit back in Philly. I’m grateful for the experience I got in Philly of being in a large ICU with trauma, but there isn’t quite any of that here.
  • They provide me with my scrubs! I come in to work wearing anything I want (aka yoga pants and, pick up a freshly cleaned pair of scrubs, and at the end of the day I drop them in a laundry bin. No bringing home nasty hospital scrubs?! Score.
  • The documentation is sort of from the stone ages. It’s all very open-ended which makes me type way too much and take too long to write my notes. Things are hard to find in the charts and some things that I was so used to being able to look up, aren’t even able to be found. So that’s been frustrating,  but I’m making it work.

All of my co-workers have been so great at helping me get oriented and that’s made the transition easier. I’ve been told horror stories of lack of orientation and being thrown to the wolves so this was a good surprise. Overall, I can’t complain. I’m doing something I love in a beautiful state that get to explore every weekend!

Does it get easier?

I had the chance to meet up with a few travelers who have a few contracts already under their belt when I first moved to Eugene. One of the first questions I asked them was “Does it get easier?”

Image result for life starts at the end of your comfort zone

Does moving away from family get easier? Does it get easier to say goodbye to the comfort of having friends down the street? Is it hard to have to start over every three months? Over time, is it easier to find friends and groups to be involved with? Do you ever get to a point when you aren’t consistently feeling lonely?

No. But sometimes, yes.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to family. Thankfully, technology makes saying goodbye a little easier. FaceTime, Skype, and all of those apps that help us keep in touch, make things a little easier. Between contracts, take that time to get home and see family. But it doesn’t truly get easier when you make that next move.

It gets different, they said. Not necessarily easier.  You learn how to adapt quicker. You find different ways to make friends. You get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. You embrace the fact that you’re getting a chance to experience something that others don’t get to experience. You take in the moments and just take it all day by day.

Image result for travel quotes

A hard thing for me is the time difference. When I wake up, most of my friends are a quarter through their work days. I have multiple texts from my group chats that started 3 hours prior when they all woke up (thank you, do not disturb, for allowing me to sleep through these texts). At night, when I’m typically feeling the most vulnerable and alone, all of my friends and family are asleep. I’m getting out of work as their eating dinner or settling down for the night. I’m eating dinner as they’re in bed. It makes the time that I do get to talk to people more special, but it also makes it harder to coordinate times to communicate.

Another thing that I’m struggling with is seeing my friends doing things and feeling serious FOMO. Because I’m alone. Across the country. And am still trying to find my place in this new city. I know in the end this experience will be worth it, but it’s hard. What helped me through my first week is a few great friends who have taken the time to FaceTime with me, cheer me up with texts or phone calls, and provide me with amazing words of support and encouragement, helping to remind me why I’m doing this. So thank you to those friends who have taken the time to reach out and check on how I’m adjusting, I appreciate you all more than you could ever know.

So. As I’m adjusting to this life, as I’m learning how to get by and push past those feelings, as I’m building my character and stepping out of my comfort zone, as I’m learning patience and learning more about myself than I’ve ever known – it may not get easier, but I know I’ll always have people back home supporting me and waiting for me when I (if I? haha) come back.



You mean, you don’t know anyone out there?

This was another concerned question I got repeatedly when I told people I was moving across the country. And it’s not something I didn’t think about daily, if I’m being honest. I’m leaving my home, my friends, my family, and moving to a city where I know zero people, with the exception of a cousin that’s two hours north of me. It’s terrifying. And it’s hard as all hell to make friends when you’re older. So how do you go about making friends?

First, thank goodness for social media. Sometimes all of the nonsense on social media can drive me crazy and make me want to delete the apps from my phone – but I am so appreciative of the tools it has provided me with in this move. On Facebook, there’s so many groups that are filled with other travel therapists who are just as alone, scared, confused and looking for a friend. One of the nights on my drive when I was feeling particularly down, I commented on one of these pages literally saying “Hi! I’m moving to Eugene and know nobody – let’s be friends!” Within 24 hours there were over 40 comments on there and I had made plans to meet up with 2 different girls. Friends!

This one may seem obvious, but: work friends! Most facilities that we get contracted by will have multiple travelers – physical therapists, occupational therapists, and nurses. That gives you a whole group of people that are most likely around your age, are also alone and looking for people to explore the area with.

Some work friends can’t be replaced though 🙂

Next – scope out any activities that you used to do at home and try to find similar activities. Example: In Philly there was a popular running store that would put on group runs. I never went because I was more of a solo runner, but I feel that this may be an opportunity in a new city that I should take advantage of. I’m also on the hunt for a soccer league, as the co-ed league I played in was a huge part of my time of Philadelphia. A good way to do this is through MeetUp.com. I just recently learned about this site but so far it has a lot of promising opportunity.

Become a YES person. I’m an extroverted introvert. I appreciate my alone time; I need my alone time to recharge after a long work week or a lot of social activities. But you can’t make friends sitting at home every night! So say yes to happy hours, to hikes, to festivals, to coffee, to anything that anyone invites you to. You may not want to go out all of the time, and it’s fine to say no every now and then – but for every no, there better be 5 YES‘s to follow.

Lastly – don’t shy away from dating apps. Yes, some can be creepy and sometimes seem pointless. But it’s actually a great way to casually meet people and possibly find a new group of friends that you can hang with on weekends. Bumble also offers a “BFF” portion, where you can meet up with girl friends.

Any way that friends can be made, take advantage of it! Making friends is hard, being on the road is lonely, there’s others out there looking for friends too – go find ’em!



You’re Moving Across the Country… Alone?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I can’t tell you how many terrified looks I got from people when I told them I was driving across the country solo. I honestly didn’t think much about it until others seemed so intrigued/frightened by the idea. I didn’t think about what would happen if I broke down and there wasn’t anything for hours in any direction. Or if I ran out of gas because there wasn’t a gas station for 99 miles. Or if roads were closed and I didn’t have service to get directions cause I’m in bumf*ck America. If you’ve ever driven through Buffalo Gap, you know what I’m referring to when there is literally nothing, and I mean NOTHING, for miles.

So, how do you prepare to drive across the country and how do you go about it?

First things first… Can my car even make this drive?! We’re talking over 2,800 miles, crossing through 11 states, driving in temperatures over 80-90 degrees – on a car that’s 7 years old with 120K miles on it. So I took her in, got her checked out, did some things I probably should have done 20K miles ago… And they said she was ready to go! Here she is in Badlands National Park – she may have had her check engine and tire lights on for half the drive, but she made it.


Second, pick a route! Do I want to do a more southern route or more northern route? What places should I stop? How many days can I take to do it? How long do I want to drive every day? Do I book hotels?

I started with Roadtrippers! I put in my starting location and ending location – then added a few places I knew I wanted to stop on the way, then picked the remaining random locations based on what cities I would be passing through.

My must sees: The Badlands!

And while in South Dakota – Mount Rushmore!

And of course, you can’t pass through southern Wyoming without hitting Grand Teton National Park:

Once those three were set, I started to look at what was along my route. First place that caught my attention: Twin Falls, Idaho to check out Shoshone Falls. And OMG was it worth it…

Breathtaking. I also tried to check out Twin Falls Falls (not a typo), but there was construction and it was confusing, so I drove away. On my way to my next overnight stop, I was looking up “Must-see” places in Idaho (put that down as something I never thought I would say in my life) and stumbled across Balanced Rock. It was only a 45 minute detour outside my route and I was doing great on time so, why not?!

Now, as far as hotels go, this is how it went down. I felt out my day, drove for most of the mornings/afternoons and would have my mom or sister look up hotels in cities I was approaching. Then I would just book the hotel on my phone (definitely not while driving on highways while on cruise control going 80+ mph, that would be frowned upon.)

This drive took me five days, driving anywhere from 14 hours the first day and 7 hours the last day. It was truly an exhilarating experience to be in the middle of the country, endless sky and endless fields engulfing you as you fly down the pavement that seemed as if it was out of place in such a rural environment. It was slightly terrifying when I would see signs that said “Next gas: 99 miles”, or “(Insert random town name here), Population: 10”. I would recommend that drive to anyone who is looking for a solo adventure – there were times that I would look up at my surroundings and just smile, knowing that I am so lucky to be able to travel like this, and knowing that there is so much more waiting for me out there.

Other tips: Road snacks, get a lot of them. Gas station coffee isn’t the best, but it keeps you awake. Audiobooks are surprisingly more intriguing than I imagined. Spotify is the greatest – endless music and podcasts. Even when you think you’re okay on gas, fill up cause you may not see civilization for a long time. Take advantage of free breakfasts at hotels – one less meal on the road you have to buy. Take advantage of fitness centers in hotels – 14 hour drives = stiff legs that are ready to run. If you can, bring a friend! But make sure you can stand being in tight quarters with them for hours at a time.